Passengers onboard United flights no longer have to bring their own food and drinks when taking to the skies.
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On Nov. 17, the Chicago-based airline will resume selling food, beer and wine to its economy passengers on select flights departing out of Denver, after halting the service due to health and safety purposes during the pandemic, USA Today reported.
Passengers traveling out of Denver to Honolulu; Los Angeles; Chicago; Boston; Newark, New Jersey; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C., will be able to order food and drinks. Currently, the airline is only offering free snacks and a bottle of water to economy passengers on its domestic flights.
United reportedly developed a contactless digital payment system for flyers to purchase snacks and drinks through a partnership with Cleveland Clinic. Hungry travelers who wish to buy food items must input their credit card information in United’s mobile app or website to avoid contact with flight attendants.
Airlines and travel industry experts have seen spikes in holiday travel booking during the third quarter and into the fourth quarter as more Americans become increasingly comfortable with flying. As a result, airlines have started to cater to the uptick in passengers.
Other carriers are also serving food and drinks on flights during the pandemic. American Airlines are offering free snacks and water on flights between 2.5 and 4.5 hours, while Delta is serving a pre-packaged snack and bottle of water. And passengers on board a Southwest flight will get free snacks to destinations over 250 miles "when available."
JetBlue is also continuing its complimentary snack and soft drink program in addition to selling prepackaged snack boxes.
Meanwhile, recent research suggests that flying may actually be safer than grocery shopping and indoor dining, in regards to the potential spread of COVID-19. Aviation Public Health Initiative researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggested in a report last month that there is a low risk of transmission of COVID-19 on aircraft when masks are worn at all times, and because of the frequent exchange of air and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters.